By Sierra Hunter
Warning: Mild Spoilers
*Articles reflect the views of the author and or those quoted and do not necessarily represent the views of CCBC or the CCBC Connection.
Last week, one of the most anticipated movies of the year swung its way into box offices nationwide. Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. Marvel's Black Panther was the first movie released after the 25th anniversary of Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Pre-sale for the cinema broke many records. According to Fandango, it’s “...the largest presale ever for a non-Star Wars film." Benefitting from the slow movie attendance during "dump months," Black Panther should dominate the box office for weeks without any competition. The movie has already made a record-breaking $235 million during its premiere weekend, according to AV Club.
T’Challa’s story picks back up where we last saw him in Captain America Civil War. The film spends the first act of the movie building up the world of Wakanda. For those who have never picked up a Black Panther comic in their life or came in knowing nothing about the Wakandan king, audience members can follow the plot without much knowledge from the comics.
There are two villains in this story, Eric Killmonger played by the fantastic Michael B. Jordan, and Ulysses Klaue performed by critically acclaimed actor Andy Serkis. The film makes sure that there is one defining villain. Serkis' character acts as an introduction to the main villain.
This film, unlike most Marvel movies, has a multidimensional and charismatic antagonist. You can see the motives for Jordan's character has depth, thus making the audience relate to his plight. Killmonger forces T'Challa to question his isolationist views that were instilled in his life growing up. Additionally, Killmonger drives T'Challa to see that "in troubled times, wise men build bridges while fools build walls."
Killmonger's motivation presents a conflict for T'Challa because, for most of his life, his father ruled without question. One of the most poignant moments of the film is when T'Challa confronts his father, T'Chaka, about a secret that has been covered up for years.
Eric Killmonger is so menacing because he is the reminder of T'Chaka's mistake and a symbol of what happens when a king neglects his people. Hence the coming of age story, at some point T'Challa, like most children, comes to realize that his parents are flawed.
The film focuses on the central theme of imperialism vs. traditionalism, a very poignant idea due to this civilization's seamless blend of technology and tradition. One fundamental question asked in the film is whether involvement with the outside world makes society and culture weaken one's own.
This film did not feel like a solo film but more of an ensemble piece with each actor providing their contribution to the story.
The women in the film play a significant role not only in the world but the plot itself. They are not just supporting characters. In some cases, they carry the progression of the plot. They are strong, independent, highly intelligent women who have differing opinions on the goal of bettering Wakanda.
In light of the new wave of female empowerment, it's refreshing to see women playing roles of high status while remaining vulnerable.
Okoye, a general of the Dora Milaje, seeks value in her sacred duty to defend the crown. She is very rigid regarding tradition, and on film, she demands the screen. Sometimes even stealing the spotlight from other characters. She is a woman with active principles in a high-ranking position.
Nakia who left Wakanda years ago to help neighboring countries doesn't particularly want to be queen, but she recognizes that Wakanda has advantages that could help people who are in dire need. She has a soft spot for T'Challa and her country, however, is frustrated with the lack of opportunities their resources would provide people on a world stage. Her defining line comes in a conversation with T'Challa, “I would make a great queen because I am stubborn—if that’s what I wanted.”
Shuri is the heart of the film, her love for her brother is prominent and with lines like "Great, another broken white guy for us to fix," it's easy to see why she's a fan favorite. She is the leader in tech development in Wakanda. She knows all of the inner workings of Wakanda and strives to improve her work.
Despite strong character development, the film has pacing issues. At a specific time do not leave to go to the bathroom, the third act is that quick, which personally I found as a downside to what otherwise is a fantastic film.